David Edgar's monumental Maydays dissects the saga of post-war political awakenings, as the many dedicated devotees of the ideals of communism become disillusioned, and dissent. In a play that spans five decades, we see socialists of various dedication and origin – from the apparatchik of the Soviet Union down to the radical university lecturer – each finding that the distance between their conscience and their comrades has become too great to traverse.
Written in the early eighties, Maydays was first presented against a backdrop of many prominent members of the Left abdicating and turning Tory. Edgar writes in his introduction that for Maydays, the "starting point was the insight that the unique thing about the conservative revival of the late seventies was that it was led largely by defectors from the left".
Described by the author as being "about as grand a narrative play as it's possible to be this side of Tamburlaine the Great", Maydays offers a rise-and-fall look at the ideals of communism, and its supporters, from the popular post-war rise of the 40s to the stagnant and jargon-laden demise of the 80s.
Maydays premiered at the Barbican, London, in 1983, in a production by the RSC.